Prejudice, Bigotry, Assertiveness, and Supremacism: Understanding Variations in Political Tolerance as a Key to Democratic Viability

  • Sten Widmalm

Abstract

Prejudice, Bigotry, Assertiveness, and Supremacism: Understanding Variations in Political Tolerance as a Key to Democratic Viability
This article puts forward the proposition that, in the manner that it is measured in most studies today, the current definition of political tolerance is too similar to that of our understanding of what democracy stands for. Consequently, most research has assumed the importance of political tolerance for democracy and then focused most efforts on trying to explain how political tolerance can be protected, upheld, or explained. Therefore current approaches overshoot the more fundamental problem of saying something more substantial about how various forms of political intolerance or tolerance can be related to democratic performance. The critique formulated here – and the solution to it – involves a closer scrutiny of the value systems of tolerant and intolerant individuals. It involves taking into account regime preferences and levels of knowledge when assessing the stance individuals may take regarding the political rights of disliked groups or individuals. This enables us to separate categories of intolerant and tolerant individuals on the basis of their motivation for the position they adopt. Categorization in that way can tell us more about the viability of democracy and the choice of efforts to reinforce it, than can previous measurements and definitions of political tolerance. 

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